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A modern masterpiece from one of Italys most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrantes inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.

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I received this book as a Christmas present from my boss over a year ago. In fact, everyone in the office received a copy – that’s how much our boss wanted us to read it. Before you start wondering what sort of wonderful place I worked at, let me clarify it was a literary agency, so such things were totally commonplace. So despite the terrible cover, and a rather idiotic blurb I knew it would be a fine book.

No review of Ferrante’s book is complete without a mention of how no one knows who Ferrante is or even if she exists as an individual woman at all. Personally, I find this whole mystery of little interest as I share her view that all that the author wants to say she should say in the book and there is no need for the entire marketing circus.

Ferrante’s Naples novels have been compared to Knausgaard’s magnum opus because both authors can be characterised by their hyperreal scrutiny which seemingly can only be achieved in autobiographical novels. The autobiographical component is official in case of Knausgaard and alleged in Ferrante’s. Additionally, Knausgaard has happily joined the marketing circus, which is why I find Ferrante’s presumed exhibitionism a lot more palatable.

These books defiantly ignore all creative writing advice and cheerfully tell and not show, abandon all sensible plot structure and introduce as many characters as they feel like, not really caring whether that whole cast is in any way necessary. Neither do they have time for stylistic flourishes. Ferrante’s prose is bare; the language takes a back seat and is nothing more than a tool to the narrative that is pushed forward by its own urgency. What we are left with, though, is so vivid and authentic that no carefully polished novel could compete with it. This is great news. Rejoice, people, because in the age when it is possible to get a DEGREE in novel writing (without having to write anything of significance), comes a book which just doesn’t give a shit and still manages to steal the hearts of thousands.

I don’t suppose I have to explain what this book is about, because you have other reviews for that. But in short it’s about the intense friendship and rivalry between two girls growing up in the impoverished outskirts of Naples. You might argue it’s a book about female experience, and to an extent it certainly is, but judging by how much men love this book, I’d say it’s rather universal. But then, I generally feel female experience, once stripped of all telling signs could be pretty universal, because, you know, women are people too. Anyway, to me this book was more about class than gender. That constant anger, violence, the ‘let’s get them before they get us’ feel permeates the novel. And the moral, if ‘My Brilliant Friend’ has a moral at all, is that you can take a girl out of the Naples slums, but you can’t take the Naples slums out of the girl. Make no mistake, though. This is by no means an emotionally manipulative misery memoir. This is a story of childhood that simply doesn’t know it’s underprivileged.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
I tried. I tried. I tried. For 200 pages I tried to see what it is about this writer that gets such acclaim, but with 130 pages to go, I abandoned it - there are just too many other books in my waiting pile that I want to read.
This book was chosen for book club which is why I persisted so long (I normally stop reading a book pretty quickly if it doesnt engage me).
I didnt develop any concern for the characters, and found it really repetitive - different stage school/same response from parents/same competitiveness with Lila/ it just went on and on and didnt seem to GO anywhere. It was supposed to be the story of a friendship from childhood until womanhood, set in Naples in the 1950s - but I then discovered this book only goes up until the two girls are 16 - there is a sequel - and at that point I decided OH ENOUGH! I realised I was not even going to get some sort of satisfaction from finishing it. Endless minor characters proved annoying and I gave up trying to keep up with who they were (despite the list in the front of the book) as well as all the interludes with various boys.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
I have been studying Italian in my free time and so decided to try reading one of the most popular Italian writers of today: Elena Ferrante. There have been many articles about this authors mysterious anonymity. Her real identity is unknown except to her publisher because she wishes to have a normal life. I get that. Still, it only adds to the intrigue, as you cant help but wonder who writes these marvelous books. My Brilliant Friend is not the sort of book I would normally pick up as I prefer fantasy fiction. This is contemporary realistic fiction about two women who grow up together in the 1950s and 1960s in a poor neighborhood in Naples. The cast of characters is large, and for me, an American reader, I was missing some cultural context that made it a little bewildering at first. I read the book in English (because my Italian is not that good yet) and the style was both deeply intimate and jarringly matter-of-fact. The narrator Elena tells us everything about her upbringing in a neighborhood where harsh poverty is the norm and family violence is unremarkable, even, for instance, when a father sends a daughter flying out a second story window. Elena grows up side by side with her friend/foil/personal albatross Lila, who is naturally brilliant at everything and more beautiful than Elena, but who is held down by circumstances to work in her fathers shoe store while Elena has a chance to escape her life through education. The book is a blow-by-blow confessional, following the two girls from their earliest memories through their early adulthood. The short chapters keep the pages turning, and by the end of the novel I found myself very involved in the lives of the characters. It is epic in the best sense of the word, and yet quiet and personal in its scope. At the end, there is a cliffhanger so brutal I immediately had to go and buy the next volume of this series. Wow, cliffhangers work! I should try them some time . . .

مشاهده لینک اصلی
type, edit, delete,

undo delete,

type, edit, delete..

deep breath

start again

type, edit, delete…

make a coffee

type, edit, delete…

pour a drink

type, edit, delete..

desperation sets in

The dog ate my review!


Why, why, why can’t I find any words to say about this book?

The problem is I don’t know what I feel about it. In fact, the book has left me without any feelings, good or bad. It has left me blank. I’m not used to feeling blank after reading.

I read Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment last year and I was excited while reading - I felt every line of it intensely. I was so stimulated by the writing - the words and the dramatic tone seemed to match the episodes of the narrative quite perfectly - that I started writing the review even before I’d finished reading the book.

With this one, I skimmed, I nodded off, I left it down often and only reluctantly picked it up again. I finally finished it on a flight after I’d deliberately not carried any other reading material with me.

In my desperation to find something to say about the book, I even thought about rereading it…

مشاهده لینک اصلی
My Brilliant Friend, a.k.a. My Brilliant New Obsession

Believe all the hype. This is a rich, immersive, deeply satisfying book that, like many great novels, captures a particular time and place with complete authority. I can’t wait to read the other books in the series.

In a dirt poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples in the 1950s, bright working class girls Elena Greco (our narrator) and bestie Lila Cerrullo survive childhood and adolescence, learning how to navigate school, boys, sex and the limited opportunities available to them because of their class and gender.

Initially I found the book disorienting. The prologue is set decades later and involves people we don’t yet know. Lila has disappeared and Elena is trying to discover what happened to her. Presumably these books are her way of finding that out.

And once the story proper begins, it takes a while to keep all the names straight. Who is Nino, again? Enzo? What are the grocers called? (It doesn’t help that only Elena calls her friend Lila; everyone else calls her Lina, and her birth name is Rafaella! Also: Elena is often called Lenu.) An index of the family names at the beginning proves very helpful.

But Elena Ferrante’s prose is ravishing. It’s graceful without being precious, mature and knowing while still immediate and visceral. She literally plunges you into the lives of these children. Family vendettas take on the power of myth; middle school is a fraught war zone where learning goes beyond what’s in the books; each change in the girls bodies is registered and assessed in terms of their newfound power (or lack of it).

Late childhood and early adolescence can be a painful time; the stakes are high; your identity isn’t yet formed. There’s a sense of danger lurking everywhere. One month that boy in class could be a friendly ally; a few months later he might spit at your feet, ignore you and take up your best friend. Every situation, not just a class assignment, is a problem to be solved.

Near the end of the book, the way one character orchestrates her way out of one engagement and into another is worthy of something from The Godfather movies.

In its insights, rich texture and violence – murder, threats, being thrown out of a window – the book reminded me of Alice Munro’s early masterpiece Lives Of Girls And Women.

And several things will continue to haunt me:

• The girls’ first trip outside their neighbourhood – when they “run away”
• How the title is mentioned in the final section of the book (this makes you wonder who, exactly, is the “brilliant” one)
• A scene in which the neighbourhood’s teens, all dressed up, cross into a fancier part of town and realize, with insecurity and anger, how limited their world and lives are
• The climactic wedding scene, in which all the threads of the story come together – sex, romance, class, destiny – up until the surprising twist in the final line, which will make you reconsider a big chunk of the story
• Elena’s introduction to the pleasures (and dangers) of sexuality
• The idea of how we sometimes act to impress friends, mimic being courageous by thinking of others actions, or more subtly, do things while imagining our friends doing them
• The longings, fears and sheer awkwardness of adolescence
• The legacy of fascism, complete with stories about what family did what to whom, and the changing nature of Italian society
• The idea of how education gets you ahead but also alienates you from the class you might soon be leaving behind

Ferrante (a pen name) has structured the book so carefully that an early sequence in which the girls try to retrieve their dolls in a sewer contains, in miniature, everything that the book will eventually deal with: lost innocence, petty jealousy, money, imagination, sinister men, courage, and the way that one person’s account of the facts can vary drastically with the so-called truth.

Now that Ive come down with @Ferrante fever,@ I look forward to the next novel, The Story Of A New Name.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
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